U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has modified the hazardous waste management regulations under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) to conditionally exclude solvent-contaminated wipes from hazardous waste regulations provided that businesses clean or dispose of them properly. The rule is based on EPA’s final risk analysis, which was peer reviewed in 2008 and published for public comment in 2009. That risk analysis concluded wipes contaminated with certain hazardous solvents do not pose significant risk to human health and the environment when managed properly. EPA estimates that the final rule will result in a net savings of between $21.7 million and $27.8 million per year. Wipes are used in conjunction with solvents for cleaning and other purposes by many facilities in numerous industrial sectors.
The final rule excludes wipes that are contaminated with solvents listed as hazardous wastes under RCRA that are cleaned or disposed of properly. To be excluded, solvent-contaminated wipes must be managed in closed, labeled containers and cannot contain free liquids when sent for cleaning or disposal. Additionally, facilities that generate solvent-contaminated wipes must comply with certain recordkeeping requirements and may not accumulate wipes for longer than 180 days.